I made myself get over to an event at LACMA back in January of this year, and am so glad I did. Korean-born artist Youngmin Lee gave a demonstration of bojagi making, and brought with her a glittering lode of stunning samples (which, after the demonstration, she allowed us to  t o u c h ).

bojagi by Youngmin Lee

I don’t have good examples to show here of the neatly folded wrapping styles, though you may be able to make them out at the rear of the photo above (click on these images to see them a little larger). Below is an example I was better able to relate to—something I could imagine doing and using every day.

bojagi shopping bag

The talk was fascinating. I think that’s mostly due to the artist’s passion and enthusiasm for her craft and her culture. The finished pieces, the exquisitely framed samplers and the lengths of Korean-made silk, linen and (especially) ramie, were all presented to us as beloved treasures.

bojagi - korean-made ramie - bojagi by Youngmin Lee

Korea’s bojagi traditions travel along two main streams: the frugal saving of the tiniest fabric scraps by commoners (Min-bo or Chogakbo are most well-known), and the luxurious, specially made wrappings commissioned by the court (Kung-bo).

To my untrained eye, Lee’s work appears to traverse both, but she also seems to take the most delight in the more down-to-earth piece-work of everyday people. In these, if you’ve seen traditional American quilts, you’ll recognize more than a few patterns.

bojagi-quarter-square-triangles by Youngmin Lee

She recalled to us how her mother always made sure to put a bojagi in her purse when she went out shopping.

bojagi-stripes by Youngmin Lee

Devotees to Tiny Details as well as Hangers-on to the Eensiest of Scraps may be as fascinated as I was by the traditional fabric embellishments Lee demonstrated, including “pine nuts” (JakSsi, top image) and “bat knots” (BakGiMaeDup, below).

bojagi bat knots by Youngmin Lee

Above all, both the demonstration and the chance to riffle through the fabrics were gloriously sensuous experiences. I cannot name a sense that was neglected. I went home sated and inspired.

If you’re curious to learn more, visit Youngmin Lee’s website, where she has a gallery, event and class info, and an instructional DVD. I also highly recommend this excellent and detailed PDF document about bojagi, from history to how-to, by Chunghie Lee, Bojagi and Beyond.

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6 Responses to Bojagi: Korean Wrapping Cloth

  1. Penina says:

    You’re very welcome, Youngmin! Both your talk and your beautiful work were inspiring.

  2. Youngmin Lee says:

    Thank you for your visit and wonderful posting!

  3. Penina says:

    Thanks, Julie. You are awesome.

  4. Julie says:

    It’s always a pleasant surprise to read about your new discoveries. So I’m always looking forward to more of your adventures into new art forms. Through your writings I feel as tho I am there too seeing and feeling these wonderful works and learning about the artist Lee. Just Amazing!! Thanks Penina.

  5. Penina says:

    Thanks Angie! I was worried I had waited too long to write this, but once I began it all came flowing back.

  6. soangiewrites says:

    This is lovely. And so sustainable. “Sated and inspired” < what a treasure to feel that!